By Michael Roston

New York Times News Service

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A few notable events didn’t make The New York Times’ Astronomy and Space calendar, which can be viewed anytime at nytimes.com/spacecalendar . Events will be added as more is learned.

If you love space and astronomy, 2018 will be an exciting year.

India and China plan to land on the moon in 2018. India’s Chandrayaan-2 may blast off in the first half of 2018. China’s Chang’e 4 may land at the moon’s South Pole-Aitken Basin region later in the year.

Private companies are also competing for the Lunar XPrize, which is sponsored by Google. The first to land on the moon with a rover able to complete a series of tasks could win $20 million. The prize’s current deadline is March 31. Contenders include Florida’s Moon Express, India’s TeamIndus and Japan’s Hakuto.

Below are some highlights.

Jan. 31: A total lunar eclipse and a super blue moon

There will be a total lunar eclipse, when the Earth crosses in front of the sun and makes the moon glow a reddish-brownish color, visible in North America before dawn. It will also be the second supermoon in a month. When there are two full moons within one calendar month, the second is colloquially known as a blue moon.

May 5: Spacecraft to Mars could begin voyage

InSight aims to listen to the deep interior of Mars, potentially offering clues about the planet’s seismic activity. This is the opening of its launch window, and it is expected to land on Mars in late November.

June 1: Hayabusa-2 reaches the asteroid Ryugu

Launched by Japan’s space agency JAXA in December 2014, this spacecraft will arrive at the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu and study it for about 18 months, attempting to collect a sample from its surface before returning in 2020.

July 31: NASA could launch the parker solar probe

To study the sun’s corona and investigate the solar wind, this toughened-up spacecraft will fly within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface. With a series of flybys of Venus between now and 2024, it will steadily get closer to the sun.

Oct. 1: BepiColombo mission will head to Mercury

The European and Japanese space agencies are collaborating to launch this spacecraft, which would be only the third to visit the planet closest to our sun. When it arrives at Mercury in 2025, its two probes will separate to gather info that could help explain how the rocky planets in our system formed.

Dec. 21: 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 launch

Before astronauts could take a giant leap for mankind on the lunar surface, Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr. and William Anders went round the moon and back in a lunar orbit that set the stage for 1969’s Apollo 11 mission.

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